Encrypted Floppy Drive

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Introduction: Encrypted Floppy Drive

Floppy disks. Everyone has them, but nobody uses them anymore. It made me think that there has to be some way to use them to store secret data on the cheap.

I accidentally stumbled over the answer when I was dissecting a dead floppy drive. Here's what I found.

Step 1: Opening the Drive

Each floppy drive is held together by a combination of screws and clips.

Before you open it, you'll usually need to remove the front panel.

After the front panel is off, you need to remove the screws, then open it carefully not to bend the metal at the clips.

Step 2: Encrypting

Once the drive is open, you'll see two write heads. each one is attached to the drive by a flexible PCB (Printed Circuit Board).

You need to carefully remove each one from it's socket, and equally carefully plug each one into the other's socket.

Then, all that's left is closing it back up and plugging it in.

It will register standard floppy disks as unformatted, and once you format a disk with it, a regular drive will register that disk as unformatted.

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    37 Comments

    I think that this is such a neat idea and that if I were to do it, I would need to convert 2 disk drives into this with a simple mod. Before I do that though I am wondering if there is any chance that the one ribbon cable you have to cross over the other one will potentially damage it with lots of use.

    Alternatively, you can just encrypt them with Truecrypt. That's what I do.

    2 replies

    software encryption is less useful by virtue of being widely used. Truecrypt can (like any other encryption software) be cracked given the computing power and time. hardware encryption is less widespread, therefore less likely to be attempted.

    Yeah, that's true. You could do multiple layers of encryption, though. Like compressing the files in an encrypted zip, in a software encrypted floppy disk, that was also hardware encrypted.

    Nobody uses them any more. Everyone has moved on to USB drives. Our data is at risk more now than ever. The simple solution to the problem of data breach that has been very popular is "encryption". I use encrypted USB software Data Protecto and it has been good to me.

    2 replies

    I use floppy disks. Mainly because my favorite old computer uses them. This is an interesting idea, however, and could be a valid way to keep data you want to stay secret.

    The fact that nobody uses them is half the reason to do it this way. The other half, is that people think to look for software encryption. Hardware encryption is something people don't use, and therefore don't look for.

    Any encryption can be cracked, the question is only how much computational power is needed.

    "nobody uses them anymore" - have you any ideas for using this hack?

    L

    12 replies

    The fact that few people use the floppy drive anymore means that your data is *more* secure rather than less. They're still widely available (both the drive/connections and the disks) but it's less likely that someone would even look twice at one of them. Only if someone really wants what you have on that disk will it reach the point of the encryption working, and then they're less likely to format the disk and lose your data.

    My Macintosh SE boots from an 800k floppy disk!


    wow, but why?

    L

    Because I don't want to take the SCSI hard drive out :D


    it wont boot off the SCSI?

    L

    I mean, i don't want to take it off the shelf, set the SE on it, and plug the cables in :\

    Yes. It can easily store anything less than 1 MB in size. Easily used for text files, and such.

    I appreciate that, and a few images. If it's a standard double-sided double-density disc don't you get 1.44Mb formatted? And do you use this for anything? L

    yeah, it's 1.44 Mb, I said one Mb because I was in a hurry. In fact, if your computer supports compression you can even get as much as double that. I used to use it quite a lot. More recently I drifted away because my current computer doesn't have an available floppy bay.

    Oooh - no 5 1/4? Mine came with a card-reader, I'm a bit surprised about that.

    L

    Technically, mine has one 3.5 bay' but my card reader needed it, so no floppy. What's the 5.25 got to do with it?

    Ooops I meant 3.5, it's just that I've got a 5.25 floppy as well, I got them confused. L